Women’s Running is a Hot Topic: Female empowerment, surging numbers, record controversy, and exclusive races

Women’s running has come a long way. The evidence of this is all around us; no longer is it a spectacle to see a woman running on the street donning short shorts and sweating, not glowing, full on sweating. Women are allowed to run in all the same events as men, even take to the starting alongside them in some cases, and our times keep creeping lower and lower.
woman runner
This topic is abuzz recently on a few fronts: the case of what is recognized as an official Women’s World Records if the time is run in a mixed race, the gender gap between elite times and mortal runners’ times, and the overall boom in women’s running. Janae, The Hungry Runner Girl, just did a post on that last one today as it was covered in this article on Running USA.

There is no question that there is a difference between women’s and men’s running; we can’t ignore the obvious and we shouldn’t. Some are glowing positives, I’m the first to be a proud runnerchick, but there are also some not so awesome aspects. That said, there are some not so awesome things I’d think of being a guy runner; I’m sorry I like the option of running in bunhuggers, but if I saw a guy in one I’d fork my eye out. ;)
woman runner
Obvious differences between training girls:
* Times:
Genetics give guys the advantage, no way around it; even though we can close the gap, guys are able to run faster just because of that extra testosterone.
* Volume: Women generally run lower miles overall then men if they are training for the same event; I don’t think it’s because womens’ bodies can’t always handle the workload necessarily but because men can usually cover a mile at a faster pace than women if you added up the total amount of time actually spent running the difference between the two numbers would be less. There are still women who crank out the miles, Paula Radcliffe, Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan all run upwards of 100 miles a week; though their male counterparts (Dathan Ritzenhein, Meb Keflezighi) do too and may sneak in some higher numbers too.
* Group dynamics: Females can be catty. I know, hate me for saying it, and not ALL women are but if you’re a girl you know what I mean. Guys tend to be a little more lax, low-key and if they have an issue they’ll just say it to your face, hash it out, and get over it. Girls go the more passive-aggressive route or hold a grudge. Training a group of women is a tall order; mostly it’s a matter of getting that perfect group where all the women get along and genuinely aren’t into the whole ‘catty crap’. This is possible, I’ve been in groups where the synergy works; that said I’ve been in groups where it doesn’t and this is a coach’s nightmare.
* Iron and Calcium: Females are more likely to experience anemia, low iron, so it’s extra important for them to be sure their levels are maintained. The same goes for calcium to ensure their bone density is not diminished which leads to an ugly road and frequent stress fractures. This ties into of course the whole female triad issue: anemia, low bone density, and lost menstrual cycles.

The Runnerdude Factor:

If you’re a fast female it can be easy to just slip into a group of guys, if they are man enough to not pull an ego trip, and this can be of huge benefit to your own training. Training with guys faster than you, where they can help pace and pull you along, is something I always enjoyed. The other thing is, because you’re not actually competing against them, there is usually less pressure…if that makes sense. On the one hand it is awesome to beat the most guys you can in the group so it’s motivating, but then even though there are ones you can’t catch it’s not the ‘same’ as being in a group where other women (your competition) is kicking your butt. If that makes sense; for this reason sometimes women have found it easier on their psyche to train with a group of guys rather than other fast girls.

The Case for Runnerchicks United:

That said, there is still something special to be gained by training with some other women of similar abilities. When you do find that friend who you jive with it IS lots of fun and you can both push each other to new levels in training. Girl talk and bonding with a peer of the same gender is rewarding on the friendship level too. There are also some women who prefer to meet up with their ‘sole sisters’ for the the purpose of those friendships alone; they know that women can understand a few issues more-so than other guys would. whatever floats your boat and keeps you running.
tinkerbell running
Women Only Races:

Now there are races that are only open to women and really capitalize on that female power thing. I’m sort of torn though on how I feel about that; isn’t it kind of just reverse gender discrimination? I mean I’m ALL FOR empowering girls and women to get out and get active, but do we have to do that by discluding the men? If there was a race that went out of its way to keep women out, wouldn’t there be a big uproar about it? Oh, wait, that did happen and was ongoing until a female had had enough and just ran the Boston Marathon even though it wasn’t allowed…

I always liked racing with the guys, if for no other reason than to chick them...hehe. I knew in the end that having more fast competition usually meant faster times and a better performance from myself; so I was game. I suppose it all comes down to what your goal going into the race is and your own perspective on things.

Either way, the more people we can rope into this whole running thing the better…soon us crazy runners who crave those miles will outnumber the ‘normal’ people and then who knows what will happen!
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Speaking of runnerchicks and chicking, it’s the final days to pre-order your Get Chicking shirt and help start the movement! Check it out people. :)
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1) Are you a runnerchick or a runnerdude? What’s one difference you think of running as it applies to your gender?

2) Running group dynamics and gender mentality, do you think it’s easier to run in a womens’ group, guys’ group, or mixed group?

3) Women’s only races, what is your opinion on them? What do you think would happen if there was a guys only race?

4) Best thing about being a runner of the gender you are?
All I’ll say is I’ve seen guys running in spandex and I really can’t imagine running as a guy could be as comfortable, if you catch my drift.

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14 thoughts on “Women’s Running is a Hot Topic: Female empowerment, surging numbers, record controversy, and exclusive races

  1. I quite like that women are now accepted in running but it’s also accepted that they will perform differently. It’s like equality with understanding, I guess, in a way that doesn’t seem to happen in a lot of domains! For that reason, I also like men and women races…I’m not so sure if I’d get enthusiastic about one only for women (although I’m not sure why). They would probably be good for people just getting into running though.

    • i feel a lot like you, while i’m happy that more women seem to get involved thru these events, i just wouldn’t really be as jazzed, i quite like at least the option to try and beat the boys. ;)

  2. Runner dude here. I think if a women’s only group gets more runners out there, its’ wonderful. I was in disney during one of the princess marathon weekends and there was a great energy in the air. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I love when a woman gets sweaty, when i see them spit, when they do a one-nostril snot shot, and when the confidence of a run radiates off of them. As a guy, It’s hard to run in tights, but I take performance over fasion, so in cold weather I do so with a long shirt or shorts on over them.

    • i’m so glad we can get some runnerdude perspective! ;) also have to say i’m glad there are guys out there who are all for us runnerchicks getting sweaty and snotty all in the quest for a PR!! :)
      PS- i wear the long tights too…i was looking for the right words to express that i’m glad my running tights don’t have as much ‘baggage’ if u catch my drift ;)

  3. I love that women have found comfort in the running world, but I do think that women only races are kind of bogus. But, I’m 100% comfortable with myself racing alongside men and I don’t think that all women feel that way…so if it gets people out there and moving maybe it’s a good thing??

    • haha…i knew u’d be right in step with me on this one, i only withheld the bogus term to avoid upsetting any women out there, but i’d just feel wonky in one, i dunno. but like u said, if that’s where people feel comfy to get out there and get after it, good for them. :)

  4. great post!
    And you are right on with the running groups. Sometimes when it is all women and the group is not right , it can be a nightmare. But when you have the right group of gals together it can be awesome!
    I am happy to be part of the growing trend of women runners and find it fun to catch up with faster men and try to push them and myself..
    And that being said I think I need to order one of your shirts to help me in motivation process.

    • thanks! yea, girls can be tricky in any setting, running included. :P

      umm, and i’d LOVE u to get in on the chicking movement, if u do want one, drop me an email with ur size. :)

  5. I love running with men! because most of the women runner’s I know are more ‘emotional’ with running, and tend to lack the mental power needed to run through a tough run.
    I am a huge fan of the Nike Women’s half in San Fran because the course is a beast, and the Tiffany’s necklace at the end is awesome. I don’t choose to run it because it’s female dominated, and I don’t ever plan on running a female-only race!
    Men are tough, and race when you pass them, which makes it all the more empowering to CHICK them! ;)
    I hope you’ve been having a great weekend!
    xoxo!

    • running with guys is often a great way to dump the drama, i say. :) thanks for the feedback on the Nike Women’s Half…can’t lie a Tiffany’s necklace may be a worthy incentive to lace up!

  6. Love this post – one of my biggest pet peeves is when a guy tries to beat me just because he assumes I must be slower because I am a girl. However, even though guys are faster, I believe we are narrowing the gap, especially considering how much less tme women have been running competitively.

    I’m not much of a group-runner – so I don’t really care to much about gender differences. I basically just like anyone who runs!

  7. I am a proud runnerchick! One thing is definitely the ability to wear spandex and not feel completely uncomfortable in public! Also, some of the girl’s workout stuff is just nicer nowadays (and better colours!).
    I am never going to be as fast as a guy in a race (although Jess and I did ‘chick’ some of them today teehee) but that being said I am never going to be as fast as some women either. I don’t think it advances the movement of runnerchicks to exclude runnerdudes from our races. Doesn’t that just move everything backwards?

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